Citing lax lending policies in each case, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. has reprimanded three community banks.

Cache Bank in Greeley, Colo., was accused of operating with inadequate capital and relying too heavily on subprime automobile loans. Though issued in October, the cease-and-desist order was not released to the public until this week.

Two-year-old Cache Bank has been growing rapidly; its assets swelled to $68 million by yearend 1997 and to $110 million by the third quarter of 1998. The bank was ordered by the regulator to commission a study by a third party to determine "the adequacy of the bank's staff." It also must eliminate from its books all loans classified as risky by examiners last March.

Joel Rothman, chairman, president, and chief executive officer of Cache, admitted the bank got "overly aggressive" in buying the auto loans but said this chapter of the bank's history is over.

"Our capital levels are back to a satisfactory level, and we are working hard on the collections effort," he said, adding that Cache is now focusing on commercial and real estate lending, not car loans.

Also hit with cease-and-desist orders were Mountain Community Bank in Los Alamos, N.M., and Farmers State Bank, Ludell, Kan. Mountain, with $87 million of assets, was accused of buying poor-quality loans without accurately accounting for them in its condition reports and of operating with too many bad assets. Farmers State's managers were criticized for not giving proper supervision to the $11 million-asset bank. But Kirk Lowry, chief executive officer, insisted his oversight is fine.

"The biggest problem the regulators have with my bank is I am growing too fast and having trouble finding the people to keep up with the paperwork," he said. Mr. Lowry added that he intends to hire the appropriate people and be released from the order soon. Farmers State has a lmost doubled its loan portfolio-from $4 million to $7 million-since the end of 1995 but has added only one employee in that time.

The FDIC also lifted cease-and-desist orders against two California institutions, Golden Pacific Bank in Ontario and Republic Bank in Torrance.

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